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Propane Vs. NG vs electric Furnace

Robert_20 Member Posts: 1
I have a small 1500 sq ft insulated house in Pittsburgh Pa. I am remodeling the whole house and removed the old coal furnace and leaky steam radiators, so i am starting fresh.
I have an electric water heater, dryer and stove. I will use the house about 20 days a month in the winter, but need to maintain a low temp for the pipes when I am away.

I have my choice of natural gas (from the local street connection), Propane (tanks) or Electric ( forced air furnace or baseboard).
The gas company wants a huge amount of money to install a new supply line and I would have to pay a gas bill weather or not I use it in the summer.

There is currently no duct work in the house, but easy to install since the wall cavities are open.
I do not plan on owning the house for more than a couple years at most, so I am not into it for the long term investment, but also want something that will resell.

What would be most cost effective? Electric air furnace? LP gas furnace? Natural gas furnace? or baseboard electric?
The furnaces all cost the same (about $1000), but the natural gas line is $$ to install. LP gas is $3.00 per gallon here. Electricty is about 11 cents a KWH.


  • scrook_2
    scrook_2 Member Posts: 610
    fuel costs

    1 kW-hr of electricity is 3413 BTU so you'll need 29.3 kW-hr for 100,000 BTU of heat, that's $3.22/100,000 BTU at $0.11 kW-hr.

    LP (propane) has 92,000 BTU/Gallon so you'll need 1.09 gallons for 100,000 BTU of heat that's $3.28/100,000 BTU at $3.00/gal
    using the DOE's EIA weekly price survey results for PA for week of 10/15/2007 of $2.54/gal it's $2.77/100,000 BTU. (KY & OH are cheaper, NJ, NY, DE & MD are more for LP so it seems the further west your are in PA the better, so check local pricing.


    Again, using DOE EIA price data residential retail NG is $20.79/ million BTU in PA or ~$2.08/100,000 BTU but again check your utility's rate schedule.


    Heating oil may be another option (not sure how common it is down there though) #2 oil has 140,000 BTU/gallon and DOE EIA shows a 10/15/2007 PA price of $2.28/gallon (residential retail) or $1.63/100,000 BTU

    One time installation costs will vary (e.g. nat. gas line installation cost, vs. LP tank install), so you've got to factor the payback for cheaper long term operating costs in, also you will have to adjust the costs for the efficiencies of the equipment, again higher efficiency equipment will cost more up front.

    Get local fuel cost and plug in to get costs per 100,000 BTU and go from there.

    Also, do you have an interest/desire in replacing the electric stove and/or dryer w/ gas (NG or LP)? Additionally, with a hot water (or steam) system you could also use the eboiler to provide hot water via an external "indirect" hot water tank, vs the electric HW heater.
  • gary bettcher
    gary bettcher Member Posts: 22
    off peak

    check with your local power company and see if they have a off peak heating program , if they do it will be cheaper then gas or oil. You can go to ( steffes.com ) and look at an off peak furnance and combo units that do air and hot water heating.
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